Judge Persky isn’t the problem, you are.

While I’m relieved to see America’s outrage at Judge Persky’s ridiculously light sentence for rapist and Stanford athlete Brock Turner, we’re reacting to one case of epidemic sexual assault in this country. Turner’s sentence is not an anomaly. In America, we accept rape culture. It’s normalized, and Persky acted the way judges do every single day.

On Reel Girl, I recently posted this T-shirt that reads: Two Beers Three Margaritas Four Jello Shots Taking Home The Girl Who Drank All the Above PRICELESS

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I got a minimal response to my post.

It was two Swedes who reported Turner’s rape of this woman. Do you think two American frat boys would’ve done the same?

I’ve been reading Peggy Orenstein’s fantastic new book Girls and Sex in which author repeatedly references how the sex education programs in other countries are far superior to America’s curriculum, if we can call it that. One of the finest examples Orenestein cites is Sweden. How do most American kids learn about sex? Orenstein tells us the source of their education is porn.

What are American parents teaching their children about sex? What about violence against women?

I think we all know that Brock’s father argued his son’s life should not be ruined for “20 minutes of action.” Instead of teaching girls how not to get raped, when are parents going to teach their sons not to rape? How are parents going to teach kids to respect girls and women? What are you doing today to teach your kids about gender equality?

If you want to protest this shirt, it’s made by Iron Horse Helmets You can Tweet them: @IronHorseHelmet Call them: 1.800.978.9468

 

Join artist-warriors at the Bay Area Book Festival June 4 – 5

Are you coming to the Bay Area Book Festival June 4 – 5?

Here’s the poster my 9 year old daughter’s cartooning teacher, Aaron Southerland, made for the event. I love how it shows my daughter, her best friend, and her teacher wielding writing tools instead of weapons, because, truly, when it comes to changing the world, is there anything more powerful than art?

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To learn more about Alice’s book or to buy it click here.

Thank you, Fernanda Lopez Aguilar, for the courage to tell your story of sexual harassment at Yale

I read horrible shit every day as I know you do too, but this story of sexual harassment by a famous ethics professor at Yale made me cry. So hypocritical of Thomas Pogge, an intellectual star in the field of global ethics, and reminiscent to me of how “progressive” and “lefty” men– political leaders, professors etc– can be just as sexist and dismissive of women as anyone else. We need more women in power. Below you’ll find some quotes from the post, but please read the whole thing on Buzzfeed and share it.

 

In the 1990s, a student at Columbia University, where Pogge was then teaching, accused him of sexually harassing her. In 2010, a recent Yale graduate named Fernanda Lopez Aguilar accused Pogge of sexually harassing her and then retaliating against her by rescinding a fellowship offer. In 2014, a Ph.D. student at a European university accused Pogge of proffering career opportunities to her and other young women in his field as a pretext to beginning a sexual relationship.

Yale has known about these allegations, and others, for years. When Lopez Aguilar first reported Pogge for sexual harassment, she said, Yale offered to buy her silence with $2,000.

Eventually, a hearing panel did find “substantial evidence” that Pogge had acted unprofessionally and irresponsibly, noting “numerous incidents” where he “failed to uphold the standards of ethical behavior” expected of him. But the panel voted that there was “insufficient evidence to charge him with sexual harassment,” according to disciplinary records…

In October 2015, Lopez Aguilar filed a federal civil rights complaint, alleging that Yale violated Title IX, the statute that holds schools responsible for eliminating hostile educational environments caused by sexual harassment. Lopez Aguilar is asking the government to investigate whether Yale has ignored the “exhaustive attempts” she and others have made to prove Pogge is a danger to female students.

Her complaint also accuses Yale of violating Title VI, which prohibits race discrimination, on the grounds that Pogge specifically targets foreign women of color who were unfamiliar with how to navigate power in the United States.

The claims against Pogge pose critical questions about how universities manage the power dynamic between faculty members and students…

Lopez Aguilar grew up in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. She was a star student who published a book of poems about social justice at the age of 13; when she applied to college, her high school adviser wrote that she would one day be president. She enrolled at Yale in 2006, and took one of Pogge’s classes as a junior. When he agreed to supervise her senior thesis the following year, Lopez Aguilar was thrilled…

“He was my mentor,” Lopez Aguilar said. “Now I see that I was naive, but I thought he actually appreciated me for my intellect. I was flattered that he saw promise in me.”…

Only Pogge and Lopez Aguilar know what happened in that room, and Pogge has insisted to Yale he never made sexual comments or advances to her. But she later told the university that he asked her to join him in his bed to watch a movie, The Constant Gardner, on his laptop, with the lights off. That he said he couldn’t look at her in a black dress she wore because it was too “dangerous.” That he said perhaps she would consider marrying him someday. That he told the hotel staff to call them “Mr. and Mrs. Pogge.” That he mentioned he had been accused of sexual harassment at Columbia, and said she was “the Monica Lewinsky to his Bill Clinton…”

Eventually, Yale offered her a $2,000 settlement, on the condition that she sign away her right to pursue further claims against Pogge or the university — or to tell anyone about Pogge’s behavior from “the beginning of the world to the day of the date of this Release.”

The federal government has said that it’s illegal to use conditional nondisclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases. But Yale treated Lopez Aguilar’s report as a workplace dispute, ignoring her claims of sexual harassment, her recent complaint states.

She signed the agreement. She said she didn’t think she had any recourse…

The following spring, however, 16 other current and former students filed a Title IX complaint with the Department of Education claiming that Yale had failed to properly address their sexual misconduct claims. A formal investigation was opened. (It concluded that Yale had underreported incidents of sexual violence “for a very long time,” among other violations.) Their complaint had nothing directly to do with Pogge, but it motivated Lopez Aguilar to try again…”

Read the whole story here.

Sick of sexism in cartoons? Inspiring course teaches girls to create and publish comics

 

St. George’s, how should law enforcement respond to 911 call about possible rape at your school?

SGS for Healing posted a shocking police report from 2011 revealing rape and subsequent cover ups at St. George’s school may not be, as the school seems to claim, events that only happened 30 years ago.

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The report states that a St. George’s campus security officer, Christopher Simanski, called 911 when he saw a male climb out the window of an all girls dorm and run towards the road with no shoes on. When Middletown police officer David Hurst arrived on the scene, Simanski told him he’d chased the male but couldn’t catch him. Simanski returned to the dorm, went to the room with the window, and saw a girl sitting on her bed crying, another girl sitting next to her. He wrote that she was upset, visibly shaken, and “indicated there had been a male in her room and on her bed.”

While Simanski was recounting the events to Hurst, the dean of students, Katie Titus, came out of the dorm and approached them. What do you think happened next? She helped them investigate a possible crime, right?

Here’s how Hurst tells it:

I asked Titus where the alleged victim was and Titus ignored my question and only replied by telling me that the girl was upset. I asked Titus again where the alleged victim was and again she did not answer me. I reiterated to Titus that I was there to investigate a possible assault or sexual assault and that I would need to speak to the victim to determine the nature of the incident and obtain crucial information for any possible suspects.

Titus still refused to let Hurst investigate, insisting that she would speak for the victim. She would speak for the victim? Hurst continued to press her, letting her know that he needed vital information. Titus gave him some information of her own. She said she knew the male who ran from the window. He was student who had just graduated. But then, she refused to give the officer his name or any other facts about him.

SGS for Healing writes:

When 911 is called and there’s a report that a girl may have been sexually assaulted, how the adults around her respond makes a world of difference. They can ensure that she gets immediate professional treatment and care, optimally provided by a team that includes a medical provider, a sexual assault examiner, and a rape crisis counselor. They can facilitate police evidence collection, which depending on the jurisdiction, needs to happen within days following the incident. This kind of rapid response leads to better health outcomes for victims and an increased chance that associated criminal charges are filed.

So what happened next?

According to the report, Titus told Hurst that she’d reached the recent graduate on her cell phone. (She had his number on her cell? Maybe that’s totally normal for a dean’s contact list in these digital days?) The nameless male assured Titus that he hadn’t been on campus. Hurst writes in his report: “Titus apparently accepted the alibi at face value.”  Again, she refused to give Hurst any more information about him. I haven’t read many police reports but this seems like an odd order of events. Was Titus trying to pacify the officer at first, saying she knew the male, thinking he’d leave it all alone, let her take this mess over? Then, when Hurst asked for more information, did Titus regret telling him she knew his identity? We’ll never know because just at that moment, Titus was called away for a family emergency.

Assistant dean, Lucy Goldstein, arrived on the scene to take over. More police officers also arrived, including a lieutenant who insisted on speaking to the girl to confirm the chain of events. At that point, Goldstein went and talked to the girl for 20 minutes before allowing the lieutenant to speak with her. The girl told him that she let the male into her room, they started kissing and he wanted it to become more intimate. She “declined” and he “agreed not to press the issue and left through the window.”

The report ends with:

Having no further evidence of a crime or witnesses to come forward to contradict the series of events, all units cleared from the scene. School safety supervisor Lombardi advised that he would follow up in the morning regarding how the school staff handled the initial investigation and its cooperation or lack there of in the investigation conducted by this department.

I don’t see any information that a follow up actually happened.

SGS for Healing writes that the report raises a number of questions including: Why didn’t the SGS Dean Katie Titus immediately allow the officer to see the female student? Why did the Middletown police call Ms. Titus uncooperative? Why did Ms. Titus call the adult male? Why didn’t she help the officer talk with him and why did she refuse to give the adult male student’s name and telephone number? Sometime after the Middletown Police were on the scene, a female sexual assault officer from Newport arrived. Why did the school continue to refuse to allow her access to the alleged victim? How did the school help the student get professional treatment and care? How were the police aided in gathering physical evidence?

Last night, I saw “Spotlight,” the movie about the sexual abuse and the Catholic church that just won the Best Picture Oscar. There’s a great line: “If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse them.” This story is so much bigger than St. George’s. It’s about how when institutions (whether its the church, the government, businesses, or schools) are put before individuals, children suffer. Ultimately, we all do because this pattern of abuse happens far too often and isn’t symptomatic of the kind of world healthy people have the great potential to create.

Katie Titus left St. George’s school this year. She’s about to start her new job as head of Mercersburg Academy, a boarding school in Pennsylvania.

 

 

Reel Girl’s posts about St. George’s are below. If you read them, you will see that as an alumna of the school, I started to write about the institutionalized sexism I witnessed there long before I learned about the rapes and cover-ups.

Open letter to Bishop Knisely about sexual assaults and cover ups at St. George’s school

Why is a justice who argued against statutory rape laws on the R. I. Supreme Court?

St. George’s school continues to hold back information in sexual assault investigation

St. George’s releases report on sexual assaults at the school

St. George’s alumna creates fund for survivors sexually assaulted at school

Comments on petition asking St. George’s for fair investigation into assaults make me cry

St. George’s School continues to flub investigation into sexual assaults

Lawyer investigating St. George’s sexual assaults is partner of school’s legal counsel

‘There’s no sense of why so many assaults happened at St. George’s, what the school did to create cultural backdrop that allowed and encouraged rape.’

Prep school alumni respond to St. Paul’s rape trial verdict

Women, class, and the problem of privilege: Everything I learned about sexism, I learned at boarding school

Tucker Carlson, Jerry Garcia, and me

 

 

Open letter to Bishop Knisely about sexual assaults and cover ups at St. George’s school

This is an open letter from St. George’s alumna Jocelyn Davis to Bishop Nicholas Knisely, the Episcopal bishop of the Diocese of Rhode Island and Honorary Chair of the school’s Board of Directors. St. George’s is a prep school in Middletown, Rhode Island where sexual abuse was covered up by those in power for decades.

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Davis emailed Knisely on February 16, and he has not responded to her yet.

If you would like to send your own letter to the Bishop, please feel free to cut and paste from this one if that’s helpful to you. The more voices he hears calling for change, the more likely he is to take action. The bishop’s email is nicholas@episcopalri.org.

You can find more useful information about how to contact the people in power about  abuse at St. George’s on rebootsgs.org. It’s important to write them because so many of those in power, such as Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice William Robinson are connected to the case.

If you’re not familiar with the St. George’s sexual abuse and rapes, you can find all of Reel Girl’s posts about the school after the letter.

Here is Jocelyn Davis’s letter.

Dear Bishop Knisely,

I am an alumna of St George’s School (class of 1980). I understand the school is chartered by the Episcopal Church, Diocese of Rhode Island, and that you are Honorary Board Chair. You therefore have an extra measure of influence over the governance of the school, and that’s why I’m writing to you.

I have learned of the past abuses with a dismay I’m sure you share. A number of my classmates were affected. My dismay deepens, however, when I read about the actions of school leaders—leaders still in place today.

Dozens of children were raped or molested over decades. School leaders have condemned the abuse and funded an investigation; well and good. But what about those leaders who until a few months ago (and in some respects up until now):

– Failed to report the abuse to Rhode Island authorities, as required by law
– Failed to notify institutions where abusers were later employed, even after being specifically asked to do so by survivors
– Quibbled about the reporting laws as a way to excuse their inaction
– Placed gag orders on survivors, telling them what they can and cannot talk about
– Were dismissive of those survivors who mustered up the courage to demand meetings
– Denigrated survivors as malcontents, gold-diggers, or substandard students
– Reacted to the news not with heartfelt apologies, self-examination, and personal ownership, but with facile reassurances that “all that was in the past and everything is fine now”
– Have been dragged kicking and screaming by attorneys and the press, every step of the way—and then have had the gall to complain about “unfair” lawyers and media

I am aware of the ongoing independent investigation, and I can appreciate that it is impossible for you to take action until it is complete. Nevertheless, I urge you to reflect on the above points. I further urge you to use your influence, as soon as possible, to help bring about a wholesale change of leadership at St George’s, so a fresh start can be made.

For a specific plan to that effect, please see the website www.rebootsgs.com , created by my fellow alums Chris and Philip Williams.

One last thought: In my senior year at SGS, we read Dostoyevsky’s story of “The Grand Inquisitor.” I’m sure you know it well. In the fable, Christ returns to earth and is arrested. The Grand Inquisitor, pillar of the Church, visits him in his cell to tell him the Church no longer needs him; indeed, that the Church rejects his message of “individuals first” in favor of Satan’s message of “institution first.”

I can’t help but wonder whether Christ is knocking at the door of St George’s School right now. Forty-plus individuals, courageous survivors of abuse, are standing at his side, calling for justice. I hope you will open the door and stand with them.

Sincerely yours,

Jocelyn Roberts Davis ‘80

 

 

Reel Girl’s posts about St. George’s are below. If you read them, you will see that as an alumna of the school, I started to write about the institutionalized sexism I witnessed at the school long before I learned about the rapes and cover-ups.

Why is a justice who argued against statutory rape laws on the R. I. Supreme Court?

St. George’s school continues to hold back information in sexual assault investigation

St. George’s releases report on sexual assaults at the school

St. George’s alumna creates fund for survivors sexually assaulted at school

Comments on petition asking St. George’s for fair investigation into assaults make me cry

St. George’s School continues to flub investigation into sexual assaults

Lawyer investigating St. George’s sexual assaults is partner of school’s legal counsel

‘There’s no sense of why so many assaults happened at St. George’s, what the school did to create cultural backdrop that allowed and encouraged rape.’

Prep school alumni respond to St. Paul’s rape trial verdict

Women, class, and the problem of privilege: Everything I learned about sexism, I learned at boarding school

Tucker Carlson, Jerry Garcia, and me

Why is a justice who argued against statutory rape laws on the R. I. Supreme Court?

If you’re a fan of Reel Girl, you know I blog about gender representation in children’s media and toys. For the past few months, I’ve been focusing all of my creative energy, mind power, and available time on finishing my book (a middle grade fantasy-adventure about two magical girls who save the world.) Apologies to those of you who want to know where my reviews are, including “Star Wars” (I LOVED it, so did all my kids) but I’ve got to finish this damn book. However, I’ve been pulled away from fairyland by a horrific story of sexual abuse and rape at one of my high school alma maters, St. George’s in Newport, R.I.

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Just yesterday, I blogged about how St. George’s continues to hold back information in its sexual assault investigation. The school will not release the name of the attorney who advised them not to report the rapist to child protective services. (State law requires that all persons must report suspected cases of child abuse to Rhode Island Child Protection within 24 hours “when they have, or had reasonable grounds to believe a child is being abused.”) It is possible that the attorney who recommended the school break the law is William P. Robinson, now a justice on the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

Robinson represented St. George’s in the 1980s when Anne Scott, a former student, filed a suit against the school. Though we don’t know if Robinson is the one who told the school not to report the perpetrator, court documents show he argued that if Scott, a 15 year old, had sex with Al Gibbs, the school’s 67 year old athletic trainer, it was consensual. When I blogged about all this yesterday, I asked if Robinson is a guy that we want on the R.I. Supreme Court, and this is the question I can’t stop thinking about. How did he get into this position of power with a public record of misogyny? I didn’t know about Robinson’s appalling argument blaming Scott for her rape and neither, most likely, did you, but whomever confirmed him to the court must have looked into his background and his case history. Probably multiple people checked him out. I don’t think it’s a fact that could’ve been missed or overlooked as Robinson didn’t just argue against statutory rape laws, he was publicly admonished for doing so. After Robinson suggested the sex was consensual, The Providence Journal reports the response was furious:

U.S. Magistrate Jacob Hagopian chastised Robinson:

” … Now you explain to me under the criminal laws of the United States, or of any state of this Union, or of any civilized country, where the element of it being volitional or non-volitional, or voluntary or non-voluntary, has anything to do with this type of detestable allegation made by a person who is not of age of consent, can you explain that to me?”

When Robinson tried to explain, Hagopian cut him off, stating, “It’s impossible. It violates the criminal laws of the United States.”

So why was Robinson allowed to be a judge on a state Supreme Court when he argued fiercely against the laws of a civilized country? Because he’s changed? He’s grown, come to his senses, and realized he made a mistake? Apparently not. When Robinson was asked if he was the attorney who advised St. George’s not to report the rapist to child protective services, he responded with this statement:

“In the 1980s, while engaged in the private practice of law, I represented St. George’s School in certain litigation in the federal court which has recently become the subject of interest in the media. I represented the client as an attorney must, zealously, ethically and to the best of my ability. I do not believe that further comment is necessary or appropriate.”

So in 2016, Robinson claims that his past argument against statutory rape was ethical. He says: “I do not believe that further comment is necessary or appropriate.” Is that OK with you, America? That a justice on a state’s Supreme Court argued against statutory rape? Do you think justices who share Robinson’s view are on your state’s Supreme Court? Do you want your country to take rape more seriously? Do you care about stopping this national epidemic?

in 2014 the federal government released the names of 55 colleges and universities that are under investigation for their handling of sexual violence or harassment complaints. Under Obama, there has been more of an attempt than ever before to make ending rape a national priority. Still, Washington Post columnist George Will and others ridiculed the action and questioned the 1 in 5 statistic of women raped on campus, calling all this attention “rape hysteria.”

Rape is rampant in the USA because as a culture, we allow the violence to happen again and again. We punish and shame the survivor by elevating those who collaborated in silencing her. I don’t know how Robinson secured his position on the Supreme Court, but he shouldn’t be allowed to stay there.

Read my previous posts about St. Georges:

St. George’s school continues to hold back information in sexual assault investigation

St. George’s releases report on sexual assaults at the school

St. George’s alumna creates fund for survivors sexually assaulted at school

Comments on petition asking St. George’s for fair investigation into assaults make me cry

St. George’s School continues to flub investigation into sexual assaults

Lawyer investigating St. George’s sexual assaults is partner of school’s legal counsel

‘There’s no sense of why so many assaults happened at St. George’s, what the school did to create cultural backdrop that allowed and encouraged rape.’

Prep school alumni respond to St. Paul’s rape trial verdict

Women, class, and the problem of privilege: Everything I learned about sexism, I learned at boarding school

Tucker Carlson, Jerry Garcia, and me

St. George’s school continues to hold back information in sexual assault investigation

St. George’s keeps assuring us that it’s concerned for the survivors of sexual assault, but why does the school continue to withhold information from the media about the cover up of rapes?

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In its report on the sexual assaults, the school stated it did not give information about any of the crimes to child protective services, a violation of state law, because their counsel advised them not to. After passing the buck and blaming their lawyers for their negligence, St. George’s refuses to disclose the name of the attorney who steered them on the wrong course.

One of the school’s lawyers listed in court documents is William P. Robinson III who now sits on the Rhode Island Supreme Court. Is Robinson the one who advised St. George’s not to report the perpetrators, all who went on to work around children, either in churches or in education? If Robinson did advise St. George’s to violate the law and his actions put other kids in danger, is he a guy we want on the R.I. Supreme Court? Obviously, that’s a rhetorical question.

Even if Robinson wasn’t the one to suggest St. George’s do nothing to prevent a child molester and rapist from hurting other kids, he’s recorded in court documents as arguing that if Anne Scott, a 15 year old student, had sex with Al Gibbs, a 67 year old athletic trainer, it was consensual. Explaining his actions, Robinson released this statement last week:

“In the 1980s, while engaged in the private practice of law, I represented St. George’s School in certain litigation in the federal court which has recently become the subject of interest in the media. I represented the client as an attorney must, zealously, ethically and to the best of my ability. I do not believe that further comment is necessary or appropriate.”

“Recently become the subject of interest in the media”??? Dude, this is not a story about Jennifer Lawrence tripping on the red carpet. The account is in the media because rapes were covered up by the school for years and more kids were sexually assaulted. Only now when other schools are finally hearing about perpetrators who went on to be employed with them, are they sending out letters about launching their own investigations into assault.

And what does this quote mean? “I represented the client as an attorney must, zealously, ethically, and to the best of my ability.” I’m assuming Robinson thinks its ethical to have no regard for statutory rape laws? Does Robinson still think a 15 year old can consent to sex with a 67 year old? And once again, I ask, if he does, should he be a judge on the R.I. Supreme Court? How is Anne Scott supposed to feel knowing that this guy ascended to the top of his field, that he holds a position of power and respect? Oh, that’s right, no one gives a shit how Scott feels. Which brings me back to St. George’s. This school cannot do much right. In spite of everything that’s happened, when every effort should be made at this time to be upfront and honest, the school chooses to be shady. Blame the lawyer, then don’t name the lawyer. Great strategy, St. George’s. I I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. All along, you’ve been withholding information to protect men in power.

‘There’s no sense of why so many assaults happened at St. George’s, what the school did to create cultural backdrop that allowed and encouraged rape.’

I’m reeling after reading two articles in today’s Boston Globe about sexual abuse at my former high school in the 70s and 80s (40 tell of sex abuse by students, staff at R.I. prep school and Student’s harrowing account of alleged abuse at St. George’s school), a 36 page report from lawyers representing survivors in response to the report from the school, and numerous accounts on a Facebook page detailing abuse along with records of complaints to the school that went ignored.

I am so profoundly disturbed and angry and sad that these kids were abused and no one helped them, that no reports were made to police at the time, and that while the teachers were finally fired, they went on to teach at other schools.

Here is what I want to blog about right now, this paragraph in the report from the lawyers for the survivors:

We have not included numerous first hand reports from alumni concerning the “culture” that existed at SGS during the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s. That has been described to us in accounts we feel are credible as misogynist, racist, homophobic and bullying. By not including those reports, we are in no way diminishing their importance or the need of SGS to address those reports, many of which have been made to the School already.

I went to St. George’s from 1983 – 1985 and I witnessed the misogyny, how girls were treated like second class citizens and I felt crazy. I thought there was something wrong with me. Before hearing about all this abuse, about two years ago, I wrote a blog titled: Women, class, and the problem of privilege: Everything I learned about sexism, I learned at boarding school. Here’s one paragraph:

What else do I remember about prejudice and boarding school? Boys sitting on a bench and rating girls who walked by from 1 – 10 on how hot they were. Dressing up as a bunny, along with all of the other new girls, including fishnets, ears, and a tail on “Casino night.” Being called “nappy face” by a boy because I had big lips and not knowing what that meant. Feeling exotic because I had dark hair. Learning the word “spearchucker” for the first time when one of the tiny minority of African-Americans was mocked.

Here are photos I posted a few times since, “Casino Night” where all the new girls were supposed to dress as playboy like bunnies.

 

Here are the boys, these are all photos from my 1984 yearbook:

 

 

Here is my friend and me, freshman referred to as “Todd’s Toys” in the yearbook, he was a senior prefect.

 

After St. George’s released its bullshit report, which I posted in full, an alumna who had been raped and contacted me after I’d blogged about Casino Night, commented to me: “The Report is very narrowly defined. There’s no sense of why so many assaults happened at St. George’s, what the school did to create cultural backdrop that allowed and encouraged rape.”

The stories coming out are so horrific that these photos I’m posting seem tame in comparison, but I hope that the school, and all schools, the legal team for the survivors, and the media address the sexism and misogyny the existed then and most likely exists today at these enclaves of “privilege.” Parents, teachers, curriculum, student government, clubs etc all contribute to a culture that allows rape to happen and go on happening. As I wrote in my last blog about the abuse, many boys were abused but I strongly believe a culture that values girls as well as boys is a safer, healthier, happier place for everyone.

Speaking of health, tomorrow is my birthday, I’ll be 47. The older I get, the happier I get. There are probably many reasons for this, but one factor is I’ve lived long enough to finally trust and believe in my own experiences. Many times in my life, I’ve been told by people who I looked up to or trusted or were important to me, that my experiences never happened, weren’t important, or didn’t matter. I think being repeatedly told that things I saw weren’t there is one reason I started blogging about sexism in children’s movies-– something that was glaringly obvious to me seemed invisible to others.

Thank you to all the survivors for having the courage to tell your own stories.

St. George’s releases report on sexual assaults at the school

Since I’ve been blogging so much information about the sexual assaults and cover ups at St. George’s, I’m posting the full report the school sent out tonight.

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I’m relieved that the school is releasing this information. I’m appalled that after so many complaints and reports, it took until just one year ago for St. George’s to write a letter to asking alumni if there were other victims. The lack of action by the school– a school-– is shocking, especially give how its lawyers intimidated Anne Scott when she brought her case. Why didn’t St. George’s initiate taking responsibility for its past?  Especially after communicating with survivors and reading their posts on the petition, I’m heartbroken by their stories of how they were repeatedly ignored.

There is quite a lot in the report defending Hannum as an investigator, stating how well qualified he is and that even if he worked at another firm than St. George’s counsel, the school would still be paying the bill, thus just as impartial.

Will Hannum’s role was strictly as a collector of information. He has not, nor will he, provide any legal advice to the School. The functions and responsibilities are separate and distinct, without overlapping roles or information. Whether paying one firm/investigator or two, so long as the School is paying for professional investigative services, a claim can be made that the investigation is not wholly “independent.” The School instructed Mr. Hannum to uncover the truth of what happened – good, bad or ugly – without reservation. Therefore, what matters most is the independence of judgment and professionalism of the investigator. The School has not in any way directed, altered, or influenced Mr. Hannum’s gathering of the facts, and alumni can have the utmost confidence in the integrity of this report.

What about the survivors though? I was contacted by a survivor who did not want to talk to Hannum because she was concerned he might be gathering information to protect the school from a lawsuit. That tactic doesn’t seem so unlikely given the  former head, Tony Zane’s comment to the Globe about St. George’s aggressive tactics against Anne Scott when she brought her suit against the school: “Don’t blame us for trying to protect the school from a 10 million dollar law suit.” Why would you make a lawyer the first person to speak with survivors of sexual assault, many of whom already felt not listened to and betrayed by the school? (Because he’s qualified, says St. George’s.)  As far as the reimbursement for therapy and the process survivors had to go through to get approval from Hannum, the reports states:

 

There has been some concern that victims were asked to approach Will Hannum as a first step towards reimbursement. This was implemented, from the outset, as a temporary solution, something that should have been made more clear, and was put in place so that reimbursement could happen immediately. This choice was predicated on the belief that speaking to someone who already knew their stories would be less traumatic for victims. It was not intended to create an obstacle or impediment to assisting any victim, either implicitly or otherwise. Once the full support mechanisms are in place, victims will be able to go directly to the clinician administering the fund for reimbursement.

So all St. George’s wanted was to make the survivors as comfortable as possible since they were already so comfortable with Hannum. Call me cynical, but I’m not buying it.

Finally, the reason I started blogging about my time at St. George’s was  because of the horrible sexism at the school when I went there.

 

I wrote about “Casino Night” an event where new girls had to dress up as playboy like bunnies and sell candy to older boys who gambled. I wasn’t sexually assaulted or raped at St. George’s, but I didn’t feel empowered in any way at that place. I felt “less than” because I was female. I don’t see the institutionalized gender inequality I experienced addressed in the report, and that concerns me because without equality, there won’t be real change. There is no more “Casino Night” but is the school a place where girls feel empowered? The St. Paul’s rape that I read about in August happened at a different school but I started blogging about it, because reading about the sexism there right now made me worry that sexism is as alive and well in that “privileged” world I came from. An alumna says this: “The Report is very narrowly defined. There’s no sense of why so many assaults happened at St. George’s, what the school did to create cultural backdrop that allowed and encouraged rape.” There are many male victims mentioned in the St. George’s report. I strongly believe that a culture that values girls and boys, that refuses gender boxes, where masculinity and femininity aren’t defined as polarized opposites, one strong, dominating, active while the other weak, submissive and passive– would be a safer and happier place for everyone. Maybe it’s time for St. George’s to have a woman head of school.

The St. George’s report is pasted below and there’s also a new Boston Globe article just out tonight about more survivors from St. George’s coming forward: More from R.I. School Complain of Sexual Assault

 

Dear St. George’s School Alumni,

This memo serves as the public report of the School’s investigation into sexual misconduct towards students by members of the community at various points during the past fifty years. In commissioning this inquiry, the School has sought to better understand its past, so that we can help those students who were harmed, help heal the community as a whole, and help ensure the safety of the School’s current and future students.

Genesis of the Investigation:

The roots of the present inquiry reach back to the 2011-12 school year, when an alumna approached the current School administration with a detailed report of abuse she had suffered from Al Gibbs, a former trainer. She sought assistance with reimbursement for counseling expenses related to the trauma and its aftermath. Her request was ultimately brought to the Executive Committee of the School’s Board of Trustees by the administration where the decision was made to provide the support for the counseling expenses requested by the alumna.

In the intervening years, three factors converged to impel the School to launch a full investigation. The first was the evolving landscape of best practices, as schools and organizations began to understand the importance and positive impact that full inquiries could have, as seen in the investigations recently undertaken by peer institutions. The second factor was the suggestion made by alumni that an investigation was warranted, pointing out the inquiries launched by various other schools, and requesting that the School follow suit. The final factor was the recent discovery by the present administration of additional information that suggested both wider misconduct and greater awareness of misconduct by former School personnel than had been previously known. These factors converged in early 2015, and the administration requested a full inquiry.

In response, nearly one year ago, the Board moved, at its own initiative and expense, to commission a full investigation into these matters, seeking the truth about the School’s past, without reservation and without limitation. The investigation mandate was wide open – it was not focused on any one era, one incident, one perpetrator, or one allegation. We wanted to know all we could about the past and what had happened, so that we could help.

The Process of Investigation:

The Board selected the law firm of Schwartz Hannum PC to lead the inquiry, based on the firm’s prominence in education law and experience in representing more than 200 educational institutions and conducting investigations for numerous schools. The School chose Will Hannum, a named partner and the firm’s most experienced investigator, to lead the investigation. Mr. Hannum is regarded as an expert for his work in this area, having led dozens of inquiries for independent schools. He is the author of nationally recognized guidelines and articles on conducting investigations and responding to sexual abuse in schools, and has presented across the country on these issues. More importantly, as was expressed by many reporting victims, he brings compassion, professionalism, and experience to these difficult conversations.

December 23, 2015

Questions have been raised regarding the structure of the investigation, in which one member of the firm is serving as investigator, while another partner represents and advises the School. While the question is an understandable one, this sort of structure is not unusual and has been used in many investigations similar to ours. Schwartz Hannum and other law firms have managed dozens of investigations using similar protocols. In this case, Will Hannum’s role was strictly as a collector of information. He has not, nor will he, provide any legal advice to the School. The functions and responsibilities are separate and distinct, without overlapping roles or information. Whether paying one firm/investigator or two, so long as the School is paying for professional investigative services, a claim can be made that the investigation is not wholly “independent.” The School instructed Mr. Hannum to uncover the truth of what happened – good, bad or ugly – without reservation. Therefore, what matters most is the independence of judgment and professionalism of the investigator. The School has not in any way directed, altered, or influenced Mr. Hannum’s gathering of the facts, and alumni can have the utmost confidence in the integrity of this report.

The investigation went public on April 7, 2015, when the School sent the first of three (3) letters to the School community inviting anyone with information to come forward. These letters are available on the School’s website: Letter from Eric F. Peterson and Francis S. Branin, Jr. to School Community (April 7, 2015); Letter from E. Peterson and Leslie B. Heaney to St. George’s Alumni (August 21, 2015); Letter from E. Peterson and L. Heaney to St. George’s Alumni (November 2, 2015).

In response to the School’s letters, more than one hundred individuals came forward to share information. The nature of the information ranged from first hand, direct experiences of abuse, to second or third hand stories of others’ experiences, to the occasional rumor or a generalized belief/description, but all of the information was important. After speaking and meeting with the witnesses, and after reviewing thousands of documents provided by the School and by some witnesses, on Saturday, December 12, 2015, the School’s investigator made a report to the full Board, with the expectation that a report would be shared with the community before the end of the calendar year.

In addition, over the past several months, the School has been working with, and continues to work with the authorities, including the Rhode Island State Police, regarding former employees and former students who were reported to have sexually assaulted students at the School. At the direction of the authorities, given the possibility of criminal prosecutions, the School has not directly approached those perpetrators who are still alive. We have been instructed in writing by the Rhode Island State Police that we should not make public the names of any living perpetrators named by witnesses in the investigation, both out of deference to their investigations and out of respect for the privacy of the victims. Therefore, living perpetrators are not named in this report.

Scope of the Investigation

The investigator had multiple communications with most witnesses, including a combination of emails, phone calls and in-person meetings. Almost all witness communications were initiated by the witness, except in the case of some current or former School faculty members and administrators. A small number of witnesses have repeatedly postponed their respective interviews.

No alleged perpetrators were contacted as part of this investigation. Some are deceased; in other cases, the School has referred the matter to law enforcement to take appropriate action, and until law enforcement has closed any particular case, the School has been instructed not to contact the alleged perpetrator.

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Both the School and various witnesses have shared thousands of pages of documents, including letters, emails, social media communications, faculty records, student records, yearbooks, documents in connection with Jane Doe v. St. George’s School, and other documents.

Given the professionalism and experience of the investigator and thoroughness of the investigation, the School has high confidence in the inquiry’s depth, breadth, and the factual accuracy of the information received. That said, the School also recognizes that there may be information that was not shared with investigators, or that may yet still emerge. In this way, while this report is an accurate reflection of what we have learned, the School acknowledges that other, additional information may exist. It is our hope that victims or witnesses in possession of such information will someday share it with the School, in the confidence that it will be well and carefully handled.

In addition, we use the word “victim” cautiously, recognizing that for some people the word “victim” can be offensive, or worse. No offense is intended. Others might prefer the word “survivor,” or some other term. However, in the interest of clarity, we use the term “perpetrator” to refer to an employee or student who perpetrated abuse on a student, and the term “victim” in reference to the student who suffered such abuse.

The Findings of This Report

With that background in mind, this report strives to offer a fair, succinct portrayal of the credible information obtained in the investigation.

A. Reports of Employee Perpetrators with Multiple Victims

Based on credible statements and documents provided by witnesses who were at the School in the 1970s and 1980s, the investigation has received twenty-six credible first-hand accounts (as well as other corroborating evidence) strongly suggesting that three former employees of the School engaged in sexual misconduct with regard to multiple students, and that there were twenty-three victims of sexual misconduct by these three employees.

1. Al Gibbs

Al Gibbs was an Athletic Trainer at St. George’s from 1973 to February 1980, when he was dismissed after a male student discovered Gibbs photographing a nude female student in the athletic training room. Gibbs passed away in 1996.

Based on seventeen first-hand accounts (by students from the Class of 1976 through the Class of 1982), Gibbs engaged in a range of inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct including kissing two female students publicly, telling students to remove their clothes without reason, taking nude photos of three students (and in some cases showing such photos to other students), fondling or grabbing the breasts of seven different students, touching the genitals of three students, and in one case rape.

Former Headmaster, Mr. Anthony Zane, said that he fired Gibbs in February 1980 after receiving a report of inappropriate activity by Gibbs, and after Mr. Zane then spent several days inquiring into Gibbs’s misconduct.

Specifically, based on several witnesses’ reports, in early 1980, a senior came by the training room, saw flashes under the door, became afraid that there was a fire, and barged in. He came upon a female student totally nude

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in the whirlpool with her eyes covered as protection from a heat lamp, and Gibbs was photographing her. The senior reported this incident, and Gibbs was fired within a week thereafter.

Most victims, and some other witnesses, indicated that they believe that the School should have inquired into and taken action with respect to Gibbs in the years prior to terminating his employment. For example, several witnesses have observed that the School might reasonably have exercised more supervision of Gibbs, as he was allowed to work as the trainer for female students in his training room, which was accessible only through the boys’ locker room.

Regrettably, the School did not report misconduct by Gibbs to any state agency at the time of his termination in 1980.

On March 24, 1989, during the pendency of the Jane Doe litigation (described below), the School made a report about Gibbs to the Department Of Children And Their Families (“DCF,” the predecessor agency to the Department Of Children, Youth & Families, “DCYF”). On April 12, 1989, DCF responded in writing to the School’s report by stating that DCF was without jurisdiction to act because the students in question had all since turned eighteen, and Gibbs was not a parent or other person whose conduct must be reported under the reporting law. There was no further report to the authorities, as Gibbs passed away in 1996, until February 1, 2012 when, based on the report of the alumna who had come forward, the School reported Gibbs again to DCYF.

2. Employee Perpetrator #2

Employee Perpetrator #2 was employed at St. George’s until 1974, when he abruptly left the School after a report to the School of his inappropriate conduct with a male student.

The investigation learned that this former employee reportedly had inappropriate and potentially sexual contact with at least three male students, including sharing a bed and trying to touch students in bed.

The investigation determined that the School quickly terminated this employee after a student’s parent reported the misconduct to Mr. Zane. Mr. Zane confronted this employee, who admitted to the misconduct. Thereafter, Mr. Zane also tried to prevent this employee from getting another job that would involve contact with students.

At the time, the School did not report this employee’s misconduct to any authority. In the course of this investigation, the School has made a report about his misconduct to the Rhode Island State Police.

3. Employee Perpetrator #3

Employee Perpetrator #3 worked at St. George’s in the 1980’s. In May of 1988, Employee Perpetrator #3 was fired after an inquiry into accusations that he had an inappropriate relationship with a student.

Based on four first-hand accounts and nine second-hand accounts, Employee Perpetrator #3 reportedly engaged in sexual misconduct with at least three students. Witnesses reported that Employee Perpetrator #3 frequently entertained students in his apartment. He also reportedly hosted smaller groups of students on off-campus trips. The three first-hand reports of sexual assault by Employee Perpetrator #3 reportedly happened off campus. The misconduct by this former employee included providing alcohol to students, writing love letters to a student, watching pornography with students, touching students sexually, including fondling a student’s penis, engineering nude encounters with a student, and sleeping in the same bed with a student.

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The School’s former psychologist, Dr. Peter Kosseff, a private practitioner who contracted to provide services to the School, recalled that, in the spring of 1988, a student came forward with what Dr. Kosseff determined to be a credible complaint about an incident involving the student being naked in front of Employee Perpetrator #3. Dr. Kosseff has declined to reveal the names of other relevant witnesses, citing patient confidentiality and doctor-patient privilege.

Two students, former Headmaster Rev. George Andrews, Dr. Kosseff and a former administrator have described the events surrounding Employee Perpetrator #3’s termination similarly: a student spoke to Dr. Kosseff about Employee Perpetrator #3; Dr. Kosseff communicated with School administrators about that; and Employee Perpetrator #3 was terminated immediately thereafter. All of this took place on the same day in May 1988.

Nonetheless, some witnesses have indicated their belief that the School might have inquired into and taken action with respect to Employee Perpetrator #3 in the years prior to terminating his employment.

  • Mr. Zane recalled that in 1983 or 1984, he warned Employee Perpetrator #3 “not to give students more backrubs,” after Mr. Zane received a report from an adult. Mr. Zane did not recall who made that report.
  • Rev. Andrews recalled having knowledge of a report, in 1984 or 1985, that Employee Perpetrator #3 rubbed a student’s back inappropriately.
  • A former student recalled that in either 1984 or 1985, he was called into Headmaster Andrews’ office, together with other School administrators and was asked to discuss the student’s relationship with Employee Perpetrator #3. The student said that he did not reveal anything damaging about Employee Perpetrator #3 during this meeting.The School did not report Employee Perpetrator #3’s misconduct to DCYF in 1988 on the advice of then legal counsel. In the course of this investigation, the School has made a report about his misconduct to the Rhode Island State Police.

B. Employee Perpetrators with One Victim, Based on First-Hand Reports

Based on statements and documents provided by witnesses who were at the School in the 1970s and 1980s, this investigation has received three credible first-hand accounts (as well as other corroborating evidence) strongly suggesting that three former employees of the School each engaged in sexual misconduct with a single student, and that there were three victims of such sexual misconduct.

4. Employee Perpetrator #4

Employee Perpetrator #4 worked at St. George’s from the late 1960s until 1971. It is unclear why he left the School. One student said that Employee Perpetrator #4 gave him gifts, worked with him during two consecutive summer jobs (and during those summers that they attended parties and did drugs together), and ultimately slept in the same room with him during the summer, where the student was raped.

The School first learned about alleged misconduct by Employee Perpetrator #4 during this investigation. In the course of this investigation, the School has made a report about the misconduct to the Rhode Island State Police.

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5. Employee Perpetrator #5

Employee Perpetrator #5 was hired to work at St. George’s in 1971, and was terminated a few months later after providing alcohol to students.

Employee Perpetrator #5 reportedly sexually touched and attempted to perform oral sex on a student.

The School first learned about allegations regarding Employee Perpetrator #5 during this investigation. In the course of this investigation, the School has made a report about the misconduct to the Rhode Island State Police.

6. Employee Perpetrator #6

Employee Perpetrator #6 was employed at St. George’s during the 1970s and 1980s. Employee Perpetrator #6 and a student were reportedly involved in a long-term emotional and sexual relationship, during and after the student’s time at the School. As a result of this relationship, the student reportedly attempted suicide, suffering severe injuries.

The School first learned about allegations regarding Employee Perpetrator #6 during this investigation. In the course of this investigation, the School has made a report about the misconduct to the Rhode Island State Police.

C. Student Perpetrators, Based on First-Hand Reports

Based on statements and documents provided by witnesses who were at the School in the 1970s and 1980s, this investigation received three credible first-hand accounts (as well as other corroborating evidence) strongly suggesting that three former students of the School each engaged in sexual misconduct toward a single student, and that there were three victims of such sexual misconduct. Two of these incidents were previously known to the School in some degree, one was uncovered during this investigation.

1. Student Perpetrator #1

Student Perpetrator #1 was a student at St. George’s during the early 1970s. Student Perpetrator #1 reportedly raped a freshman. The student-victim reported that until now, he/she has never spoken to anyone about what happened.

The School has made a report to the Rhode Island State Police about Student Perpetrator #1.

2. Student Perpetrator #2

Student Perpetrator #2 was a student at St. George’s during the late 1970’s. The student-victim has asked not to be identified in this report. Student Perpetrator #2 reportedly assaulted a younger student in public. Another student corroborated this as a witness.

The School has made a report to the Rhode Island State Police about Student Perpetrator #2.

3. Student Perpetrator #3

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Student Perpetrator #3 was a student at St. George’s during the early 1980’s. A student said that Student Perpetrator #3 touched him while this student was asleep in his dorm room. He later told the Dean of Students about this. Student Perpetrator #3 was expelled shortly thereafter.

The School made a report to the Rhode Island State Police about Student Perpetrator #3.

The “Jane Doe” Lawsuit

In 1988, a student from the Class of 1980 sued the School, alleging that she had been raped and sexually abused by Gibbs. At the time, the lawsuit did not include her name; it referred to her as “Jane Doe.”

Jane Doe and other victims who are aware of the School’s litigation strategy stated their view that the School’s conduct in the lawsuit in 1988-1989 was traumatizing, and in other cases may have made other victims reluctant to come forward. Accordingly, an understanding and acknowledgment of that perspective is likely important to the School community and the victims’ healing and recovery from the history of abuse by several of its former employees. Our acknowledgement of, and regret for, any additional harm to victims is genuine and deep.

Other Reports Not Detailed

The investigation received other reports of professional misconduct (including reports from other decades), ranging from teachers drinking while on duty, wrestling in the halls with students, and boundary issues. For example, a report was made by an alumnus from the 1970’s that a former faculty member entered the student’s room at night and rubbed him on his rear end through a blanket. The student reported that when he threatened the faculty member, the faculty member departed the room. Other reports are not detailed because the information was either not corroborated, incomplete, second or third hand, and/or was related to behavior outside the scope of the investigation into sexual misconduct and sexual assault as noted above.

The School’s Responses

Four of these six former employees were dismissed by the School, and one student was expelled, after the School became aware of misconduct. In those instances, the School promptly inquired into the alleged misconduct and responded. With respect to the other perpetrators, we understand that the victims did not report those assaults to the School during the victims’ time at the School. However, ultimately, we cannot be certain of whether the School possibly knew more before those perpetrators left the School. Regardless, it is evident that School failed on several occasions to fulfill its legal reporting requirements to the authorities.

There is no finding that the School simply ignored a complaint of sexual misconduct. One witness has stated that her prior complaint of misconduct was ignored, but the investigation has been unable to conclude definitively what happened when. Nevertheless, from the School’s perspective today – and as almost all victims and numerous other witnesses indicated – we believe the School could have done more to keep its students safe.

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Impact:

Responses to the Investigation

Over the course of this investigation, many witnesses offered personal accounts of the impact that sexual misconduct and abuse had on them. Witnesses shared a range of consequences stemming from the abuse they suffered, including that they acted out or became rebellious, no longer participated in sports, experienced a difficulty with intimacy and relationships, suffered depression, felt shame and embarrassment, were unable to form healthy, intimate adult relationships, and attempted suicide.

It is heartbreaking to hear these reports and to contemplate how St. George’s students have experienced abuse and suffering as a result of their time at the School. The School deeply regrets what happened to them, and we pledge to do all we can to support and help them in their efforts to heal.

Other Witness Comments on the Investigation:

Almost all witnesses welcomed the School’s open inquiry. Most strongly encouraged the School to continue down the path of transparency and reconciliation. Many expressed the hope that the School will continue to reach out to victims of abuse in order to offer them assistance. And many encouraged the School to report the findings of this investigation to the St. George’s community.

Likewise, many witnesses expressed the hope that the School will continue to review its policies and educate its employees and students about issues relating to sexual misconduct in order to promote student safety and foster a culture of openness and respect.

Helping Survivors

During the investigation, the School asked witnesses and victims what they would like to see the School do, and the School has consulted several experts on this important topic. The School is presently moving forward to help all victims as much as possible.

Transparency:

The School is committing to as much transparency in its communications as possible. We want to respect the instructions of the state authorities, so that they can do their jobs. We want to respect the privacy of victims: their stories are not the School’s to tell. But, we also want to share candid, important, and deeply troubling information about the School’s past. This report is an important part of that effort.

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Our Apology:

Most importantly, and above all, the School wishes to formally make a meaningful apology to those who were harmed at the School. On this point, let us be clear and unequivocal:

To all victims, we are truly, deeply sorry for the harm done to you by former employees or former students of the School. We are heartbroken for you and for the pain and suffering that you have endured. We pledge to do all we can to support you in your efforts to heal, if you want or need our support.

Of course, it is not enough to simply apologize in this report. It is not enough even to say it to you in person, as we have done in some instances and as we will continue to do for all who want to meet with us. We recognize and we also deeply regret that there is nothing that we can say that will heal your wounds completely, but we are committed to doing what we can to assist you.

Beyond our apology, the School is committed to taking concrete and decisive steps to support the victims, and to assist them in their continued recovery. To that end, the School is doing the following:

Immediate Counseling Support:

As an initial step, the School has reached out to those victims who responded to the November 2, 2015 letter seeking treatment, and we have advised them that they may begin to receive treatment at the School’s expense, immediately.

There has been some concern that victims were asked to approach Will Hannum as a first step towards reimbursement. This was implemented, from the outset, as a temporary solution, something that should have been made more clear, and was put in place so that reimbursement could happen immediately. This choice was predicated on the belief that speaking to someone who already knew their stories would be less traumatic for victims. It was not intended to create an obstacle or impediment to assisting any victim, either implicitly or otherwise. Once the full support mechanisms are in place, victims will be able to go directly to the clinician administering the fund for reimbursement.

Victims seeking to receive treatment have been advised that they may do so immediately, and that the School has approved in advance payment for their next ten therapy sessions. The School understands that ten therapy sessions will not be sufficient for many victims, and underscores that this is an advance approval – NOT a limit. The School wants victims to be able to get immediate assistance, without the obstacles of administrative processes. The School has extended this initial commitment so that victims can begin to seek care immediately. Ultimately, the independent administrator will be authorized to coordinate and reimburse care beyond the initial therapy sessions for victims who need additional counseling support.

Significantly, the School’s offer of initial support does not require a legal release of claims
and does not require any kind of confidentiality provision (or “gag” order) prohibiting the victims from speaking about their experiences at the School. The School is committed to allowing victims to speak freely about their suffering and their experiences, to help in their recovery, while also offering financial support.

Victims’ Support Fund:

A victims’ fund has been established by the School to provide funding for victims to seek therapy and other treatment, as well as to reimburse victims for past treatment. The victims’ fund will be administered by an independent clinician with experience in treating victims of sexual abuse. We have reached an agreement to partner with Day One Rhode Island, the leading social services agency in Rhode Island organized to deal with specifically with sexual assault. Day One will provide both crisis therapy services and provide a clinician administrator to coordinate speedy reimbursement of victims.

Hotline Numbers:
800-494-8100 For Free and Immediate Crisis Response, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 401-421-4100, Ext. 146 – For Rhode Island residents and therapy referrals

Victims’ Support Advisory Group:

The School is forming a victims’ support advisory group, whose members include alumni and other outside resources. The purpose of this group is to serve as a clearinghouse and sounding board for victims and their concerns, and to advise the School on issues of importance to the victims. We will be providing more information about this advisory group in the near future, and the community will be hearing directly from the advisory group in due course, as well. To date the following alumni and outside experts have agreed to serve as members of this group:

Anne Kuzminsky ’81: Alumna, and violence prevention educator;
The Rev. Cam Hardy ‘78, Alumna, Chaplain, Millbrook School;
Whit Sheppard: Journalist, victims advocate, who wrote a compelling account of his own experience with sexual abuse in boarding school for the Boston Globe, in July of 2013;
An additional male alumnus, TBD

Survivors Gathering

One of the first tasks for the advisory group will be to help advise the School on organizing a gathering of victims. This will be a private event, but one designed in collaboration with the victims to aid in their recovery and reconciliation.

Zane Dormitory:

The School acknowledges that for victims, the question as to whether the dormitory named in honor of Tony and Eusie Zane should be renamed is of special importance. This is a decision for the Board of Trustees, and will be addressed as soon as possible.

Education and Awareness:

In addition, the School renews its commitment to the entire School community – in honor of all who have suffered – that the School will continue to conduct regular and in-depth education and training for all employees and students to minimize the risk of sexual misconduct at the School now and in the future.

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In closing, the School underscores its regret, sorrow, and shame that students in our care were hurt. We commit ourselves to taking responsibility, to healing those wounds, and to making every effort to mend the fabric of the St. George’s community. We appreciate your support in those efforts.

Yours truly,

Leslie B. Heaney ’92 Board Chair

Eric Peterson Head of School